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Give Your Job Search a Boost: Do the Unthinkable!

Obstacles_photodune-6077247-rock-xsLauren Holliday, a contributor to my book Tell Stories, Get Hired: Innovative Strategies to Land Your Next Job and Advance Your Career, decided to create an email marketing campaign to contact potential employers after she had tried all traditional job search strategies. Her effort garnered 15 interview invitations.

Recently, the Toronto Star published the story of Xingyi Yan, a University of Toronto graduate, who used an unconventional technique to find a job. She donned a large placard announcing her availability for advertising and marketing opportunities. For seven days last December she stood in the frigid streets of Toronto with the sign around her neck. There were skeptics; there were those who brought her coffee to keep her warm, and then there was the managing director of Reprise Media, Joseph McConellogue, who took a chance on her.

McConellogue remarked about Yan, “We were very impressed with her initiative and her resourcefulness …She took things into her own hands, took a very different approach to finding a job. You don’t see that in a lot of people.”

Last June, Canadian Business had a story about the changing of the guards at Royal Bank – Dave McKay was replacing Gord Nixon as CEO. The headline grabbed my attention: With a new CEO and $4 billion to spend, RBC looks primed to make a major acquisition. I sent the link to two of my clients (one a General Manager, and the other a Director of Finance), with the following message:

“A new CEO of Royal Bank, Canada’s largest and most profitable bank, is taking office in August. According to the article, the bank has so much money he (the CEO) won’t know what to do with it. Wouldn’t it be a great idea for someone to build a business case and let him know what to do with that much money?

This approach might not land you a job there, but at least you would get on his radar and he would know you exist! Sometimes we have to try unconventional ways to get attention even from the head honcho!”

As far as I know, they didn’t take my advice. They probably thought that such an approach was too brazen, while I was thinking  it was a risk worth taking. I asked David Perry, of executive search firm, Perry Martel, what he thought of my suggestion to the two individuals. He said, “I could be wrong, but I think they were scared. Most people won’t do something novel or different unless not doing it is more painful than doing it.”  Could it be they felt intimidated?

Last week, I spoke to some students at Centennial College encouraging them to take chances. I weaved pieces of my story into the presentation: how I sometimes took chances and did the unthinkable without knowing if it would work. Like the time years ago when I applied for a job at the UN during a short stopover in New York. I got the job, and that delayed my move to Canada. Another time was when I got an opportunity to teach at Sheridan College after I didn’t listen to the naysayers who asked me what I knew about teaching.

Sometimes we have to be like the bumblebee, and do the unthinkable. It is said that because of the shape of its body and size of its wings the bumble bee did not get the memo that it was not supposed to fly. It took a look on both sides of its body, discovered it had wings, and said, “These wings were made for flying. I’m not made to just crawl around on the ground. I am going to do the unthinkable”, and away it went flying.

Whether you are an entry-level or senior-level candidate, sometimes you must allow yourself to be vulnerable, and try unconventional methods to get the attention of and engage potential employers. This is not the time to be shy or be intimidated. With competition in the job market, and layoffs making the news, it might just be worth your while to take a chance, do the unthinkable and give your job search a boost.